Redemptorist, Baclaran, Philippines
A Blessed Journey during this Lenten Season ...
What would you like to do
4th Sunday of Lent
We would like to remind everyone that live streaming is not a substitute for the actual mass in the church. We advise that all still need to attend masses in their Churches. Those who, due to their illness, could not go to Mass; or those who, due to their locations, do not have Churches to go to, live streaming may serve as a secondary alternative. Those who already went to mass may also view the live streaming to nourish their faith and devotion. Those who are preparing to go to mass or novena can also view the live streaming to enhance their actual attendance and participation at mass and novenas.
What is Lent
Once again we are in the blessed season of Lent. All around us we see a different season. Lent in English means "springtime". This is the season when nature comes to life – the sprouting of new leaves, the blooming of flowers, the birds, butterflies, bees come dancing, the whole landscape simply turns green and bustling. It maybe somewhat different for us here in the Philippines, though, as the intense heat of the sun which gets hotter everyday during summer, turns the whole countryside into brown. In spite of the dry landscape, however, most of our people during this time gather and harvest fruits, hit the beach, go home to the provinces for vacation, celebrate and relax.
This is also true in the liturgical season of the Church. Lent is a break from the ordinary, for example, during Lent, we are called to intensify the living out of so-called 3 pillars of lent: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Many of us stop, however, at the penance itself; we do these things just to fulfill an obligation or panata. That is why the church has brought back the importance of the catechumenate—the process of becoming a Christian. The Church now, once again, sees Lent as a time of preparation for those to be baptized at Easter, and a time of renewal of Baptism for the rest of us. The primary goal, therefore, of everything we do in Lent is to recover the new life in Christ we have received during our baptism.
However, in order to have new life we have to go through pain and suffering. In order to achieve true meaning in life, we have to abstain from things that will give us enjoyment. In order to find true happiness we have to sacrifice and refrain from possessing things for our own pleasure.
Wait a minute, there seems to be some contradiction here.
Actually there is so much contradiction in our world today. Truly, self-sacrifice and self-denial, in today’s world, is lowly regarded. The order of the day is permissiveness, tolerance, liberalism. There is a great deal of emphasis put on self-development, independence -- freedom -- creativity – individuality. This leads to excessive individualism: “We are the masters of our fate, the captain of our soul!” Nobody wants to follow anybody now. But this resulted in doubt, pessimism, boredom and meaninglessness. In the midst of these, there is hunger for deeper meaning of things; people are searching for something more.
So this is what we do in Lent, we give up our servitude for Lent. Giving up or reducing material pleasures such as food or entertainment can result in greater freedom and a richer life by showing us what we don't need. Thomas Merton applies the Zen definition "when hungry we eat, when tired we sleep" to modern life in reverse: "we eat even when we aren't hungry." But fasting is more than giving up food. Isaiah, writing more than 2,600 years ago, said, God desires that we free those bound, share our food, shelter the oppressed and homeless, clothe the naked and live out our obligations to others (cf Is. 58:6-7). But enriching the lives of others also improves our lives because we are all part of the same human race. It seems that our sacrifices in Lent are actually more to our benefit, and only secondarily gifts to God. God knows, loves, gives, liberates and transforms. He requires nothing from us, but provides everything, including life itself.